Exciting News + Healthy Strawberry Jam

Hi My Dancing Raindrops!

It’s so nice to see the rain outside. We don’t get a lot of rain where I live in Texas, so I always get excited when I hear the raindrops dashing across my window is music to my ears. <3

I have some exciting news this week!

* GIRL TALK ALERT! If you’re a guy or are uncomfortable with that kind of stuff, skip down below the dotted line to taste some strawberry deliciousness. :) *

Over the past few years, I’ve had some imbalances in my T.O.M. cycle. (If you want to know more about my story with this, you can check out some of my pasts posts – they can fill in the details of my journey.) In short, after numerous doctor visits and no answers, my endocrinologist decided for me simply to wait for my T.O.M. to come on its own, since I didn’t have any other health effects as a result. I know having a regular cycle is important to many health systems in my body, so I wanted to have it back. During these past two semesters up at college, it was nonexistent as well, and even though I wasn’t out of the ordinary, it was still distressing. Since I’ve been home, I’ve tried to relax. My life has been too full of stress for as long as I can remember, and I wanted to take a rest for a little while. This week, something miraculous happened. My T.O.M. (time of month) came and stayed with me these past five days! I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve had a full cycle that long all on my own (without B.C. pills).

Even though going through this has been hard, it’s also been a blessing in my life. Through my semesters up at college, my life was non-stop, and not having it gave me one less thing to worry about throughout my day. Thinking about my experience these past years, I think my stress levels have had a large impact on my cycle. When I think about the body and why it would do this in response to stress, it amazes me with how the body senses things and reacts accordingly. It knew I was under a lot of pressure, so it tried to lighten the burden. This has given me time to experience just a fraction of the feelings a women who can’t bear children might feel. I’m excited to go back to college in January and take Anatomy and Physiology II, Nutrient Metabolism, and perhaps Women’s Health (I really hope I can get in!). I might not have my T.O.M. on a regular basis again when I go back up to college in January, but I’m comforted to know that when I’m home it comes back.

………………………………………………………………………….

It was Strawberry Week at my house today, so I made some Strawberry Jam!

I didn’t want to use any artificial sugars, but I also wanted this to be something my mom (who’s diabetic) could enjoy too. So, while having fun in the kitchen and throwing things together I came up with this simple recipe that results in only 10 calories per tablespoon! I had my family members try a spoonful of it to let me know if I needed to add more sugar or not, but they said it was delicious! My sister begged for the bowl and spatula after I was done to lick them clean! If I get that kind of reaction, I KNOW it’s good.

Here’s how I made it!


*Note: When I took these pictures I was two batches of my strawberry jam, so it will show an amount double of what the directions will make.*


Wash, remove the stems, and slice up the strawberries, adding them to a food blender or food processor.


Process on high just until the strawberries are broken down, leaving crushed pieces throughout.


(I like my jams thicker – more like preserves.)


Pour the crushed strawberries into a large bowl.


Add the no-cook fruit pectin. (I use the Simply Creations Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin.)


Add the sugar and stir it together, making sure the pectin is evenly distributed.


Pour into glass jars and let sit for 30 minutes until thickened. (If the jam isn’t as thick as you like, try adding another packet of fruit pectin. Then let it sit for another 30 minutes before freezing.) Secure lids, keep a couple of jars out for the fridge, and store the rest in the freezer until ready for more.


My family’s favorite way to eat this strawberry jam is to spread it on top of a couple toasted slices of my homemade bread with a little smart balance light buttery spread. Or, on occasion, I’ll catch them sticking their spoon in for the twentieth time. :P

Healthy Strawberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 4 pints strawberries, washed and stems removed
  • 1 packet* no-cook fruit pectin
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions

Wash, remove the stems, and slice up the strawberries, adding them to a food blender or food processor. Process on high just until the strawberries are broken down, leaving crushed pieces throughout. (I like my jams thicker – more like preserves.) Pour the crushed strawberries into a large bowl.

Add the no-cook fruit pectin. (I use the Simply Creations Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin.) Add the sugar and stir it together, making sure the pectin is evenly distributed. Pour into glass jars and let sit for 30 minutes until thickened. Secure lids, keep a couple of jars out for the fridge, and store the rest in the freezer until ready for more. Makes approximately 2 quarts, or about 8 cups worth of jam.

My family’s favorite way to eat this strawberry jam is to spread it on top of a couple toasted slices of my homemade bread with a little smart balance light buttery spread. Or, on occasion I’ll catch them sticking their spoon in for the twentieth time. :P

*Note: If the jam isn’t as thick as you like, you may want to add another packet of fruit pectin. If so, let it sit for another 30 minutes before freezing. Also, add only enough sugar to sweeten it to your tastes. Some batches of strawberries are riper and sweeter than others, so you may or may not need as much depending on the season. With the amount listed above, each tablespoon of jam has only about 10 calories. If you use frozen strawberries, use about 3 12-oz bags of defrosted strawberries. Make the same way as illustrated above.

Print This!

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does! <3

with lot of hugs,

Kathleen

THE BIGGEST SURPRISE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE + Brown Rice Pudding

I still can’t believe that I’m an adult. Turning 18 is a huge age change – I’ve gone from childhood to an official adult. I felt like an adult before, but for some reason today I feel even more like one. I celebrated this weekend with some fun:

I saw PianoGuys LIVE at their concert at my college!





I went to the thrift store and got some new clothes! A pair of jeans, 3 shirts/blouses, 3 skirts, a dress, a pair of pajama pants, 4 plates, and a bowl for less than $40! :D

I bought 9lbs of strawberries Saturday night.


And I’ve already finished them. It’s been quite a delicious weekend. ;)

(Because I ate my strawberries so quickly before I got a picture of them, I’m borrowing this picture from GoogleThey looked just like these though – absolutely red and gorgeous.)

Monday I went and got my hair done. They trimmed it and added more layers (since I love layers – they really bring out the curl in my hair when I scrunch it instead of blow-drying it).

Today I also got to talk with my beloved Nutrition Instructor about life and how I’m doing in college. I am so grateful to have someone I feel comfortable going to and can talk with. Yes I cried (I always seem to do that…), but it really helped me today. I needed it. (Do you feel that same way sometimes?)

AND, I JUST GOT THE BIGGEST SURPRISE IN MY LIFE! MY ROOMMATES AND FRIENDS GOT TOGETHER AND MADE ME AN EDIBLE ARRANGEMENT CAKE!!!!!


IT ABSOLUTELY MADE MY DAY!!!!! <3

Today I also wanted to share with you a new favorite recipe.


My Brown Rice Pudding!


Combine the rice,


cornstarch, cinnamon, and stevia


in the bottom of the crock-pot.


Add the soymilk and vanilla.


Cook on high heat for 2-3 hours.


Top with desired toppings and dig in! :D


Brown Rice Pudding

Great for breakfast or dessert. Makes 2 cups worth (4 servings with add-ins)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups milk of choice (I used fortified vanilla soymilk)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (or quinoa if you have it on hand)
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Stevia to taste (I use 2-3 packets)

Plus add-ins/toppings of choice – see below

Directions

Combine the rice, cornstarch, cinnamon, and stevia in the bottom of the crock-pot. Add the soymilk and vanilla. Cook on low heat for 2-3 hours. Serve warm or cold.

Print This!


Add-in ideas:

  • Chocolate chips + cherries + vanilla extract
  • Bananas + walnuts +cinnamon
  • Raisins + apples + dash of nutmeg
  • Coconut flakes + sliced almonds + chocolate chips
  • Strawberries + vanilla extract + “cream” (I used vanilla soymilk)

There are a lot more than this, but these are just a few on the top of my head. If you try any other flavor experimentations I’d love to hear about them!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! <3

With lots of hugs,

Kathleen

Btw, Reese’s PB Cups are the BEST!

I Almost Drove Myself Into A Wall

Hey my Darlings!

Thanks for all of your yummy comments of my babies! Gosh they taste good! I also loved hearing about what you guys aim for in a balanced breakfast. :)

My life is SUPER BUSY right now. But here are a few highlights of my week!

I just received a couple of things in the mail!

First one  was a HUGE bag of goodies!

I received ROYAL MAIL!!! Oh my gosh it has been so long since I’ve seen one of these stamps. Kerry sent me a whole big of goodies. My favorites right now are the Origins micro dermabrasion (the tall one) — I especially love the ingredient list on this one, the face mask (far left), the pink lip gloss, and the tri-color eyeshadow. THANKS KERRY!!! :D

I also received a copy of The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester – free of charge – to review for you guys. I can’t wait to try out these recipes!

I made my mom my zucchini bread! She insanely LOVES this stuff!!!!! It’s her absolute FAVORITE!

Now for some of my eats! :D

I think I had that for lunch or something.

Maybe dinner.

Nevertheless, it was yummy! I had a big ole’ plate of steamed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots), a veggie burger, a slice of Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat with peanut buttah and blackberry preserves, and then one of my Dark Chocolate No-Bake Cookies.

A banana with nut buttah. :D

Oatmeal with cinnamon, vanilla protein powder, and this cherry pomegranate jam mix – it’s the more fruit one in the big jar you can get from Costco.

And alongside my oatmeal I had a frozen bananner with the nut buttah I have been going crazy over the past while. It complements the banana SO well that if I EVER have a banana, I want THIS (or this) on it. :)

Oatmeal with a roughly chopped gala apple, cinnamon, vanilla protein powder on top, and then a big scoop of my cinnamon raisin walnut butter.

I am going crazy of this nut buttah. The flavor – AWE! I think I like it better in the Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal than in the almond buttah! And, I’ve already gone through a WHOLE batch of it. Gosh, it is just SO good!!!!!! :D

About Driving into a wall – I just started Driver’s Ed this week, and I am having a lot of fun! I am a little nervous about driving though. Nevertheless, I am going to take the test this Saturday for my learners, and then I can actually SIT in the driver’s seat and drive a REAL car for the first time in my life. And ever since I have started driving school my life has been NONSTOP!!!! I just got home from my class and I’m taking my first test on Saturday – I’ll tell you how it goes.

What is your favorite food pictured? Mine is definitely all of the walnut buttah!

Do you like to bake for your family members? If my mom is running out of her stock of zucchini bread, she’ll bring home a bag of zucchini and give me the *hint hint.*Then I get to work. I just love it! <3

Any thoughts/tips/tricks with driver’s ed? I’m really enjoying it. :D

xoxox,